3 Proposed Bills that Affect Nonprofits

We’ve just entered the third week of the 2017 Legislative Session and legislators are still wrestling with finalizing a solvency package that will plug the $69 million hole in this year’s budget; this has been the first order of business, before they can even begin to address the new fiscal year’s budget.  Nonprofits need to be vigilant, as legislators are looking for ways to cut expenses which may impact the communities you serve.  Legislators need good ideas for how to generate new revenue for the state and nonprofits can be helpful partners in this. For more about the solvency package, see the article by Andrew Oxford, “Lawmakers send governor last compromise bills to balance state budget,” the New Mexican, January 25, 2017.

New Mexico Thrives provides this legislative analysis and review as part of our service and we will keep you updated with developments as they happen.  

Below are three bills that will directly affect nonprofits, if they are passed. They have been introduced and are currently moving through committees.

 HB224

  • limiting the personal liability of volunteers performing services for a nonprofit organization.

Sponsors:  Rep. Yvette Herrell and Rep. Bob Wooley

What you need to know:

  • This bill protects volunteers who act in good faith
  • If your volunteers need to be licensed, certified or authorized by the state and they are not, this bill will not protect them

Implications for your nonprofit:

  • This bill will provide added protection for your volunteers UNLESS your volunteers need to be licensed, certified or authorized by the state and they are not.  If your volunteers have the required license, certification or authorization, then it provides added protection for them.

Unanswered questions:

  • If volunteers need to be licensed, certified or authorized by the state and they’re not, who is liable if something happens?  Is it the nonprofit or the volunteer?

 

SB168

  • an act relating to lobbyist regulation; changing reporting requirements; changing registration fees.

Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Steinborn

What you need to know:

  • If passed, lobbyist registration fees will change from $50 to $100  

Implications for your nonprofit:

  • Increase cost to register your lobbyist
  • You will need to factor in the extra expense in your lobbying budget
  • Slight changes in reporting requirements, see SB0168 for details

 

SB225

  • an act relating to lobbyist regulation; requiring estimated lobbying expense reports to be filed by lobbyists’ employers; requiring reports to be posted online.

Sponsor:  Sen. Jeff Steinborn

What you need to know:

  • If your nonprofit hires a lobbyist, this bill will require you to file estimated lobbying expenses with the Secretary of State

Implications for your nonprofit:

  • If you hire a lobbyist, you should already be tracking lobbying expenses, which get reported on the 990.  This bill will ask you to estimate upcoming lobbying expenses.
  • You will need to factor in the extra time and expense in your lobbying budget
  • Two reporting deadlines:
  •    January 15 for estimated expenses January 1 – April 24 of current year AND actual expenses from April 25 – December 31 of the previous year.
  •    May 1 for estimated expenses April 25 – December 31 of the current year AND actual expenses from January 1 – April 25 of current year
  • Effective date if passed: December 15, 2017
  • If your nonprofit lobbies, then you should take a look at what is being proposed: SB0225 for all the details
  • Be sure you understand the difference between advocacy and lobbying.  Generally, advocacy is considered educational, helping people understand the importance of an issue or the implications of a policy.  Lobbying is defined as trying to influence the outcome on a specific piece of legislation.  See the IRS website for more information.

HB = House Bill
SB = Senate Bill